Letter to My 82-Year-Old Self

Photo by Josh Wedgwood on Unsplash

Dear Older Me,

I’m a little bit afraid of you.  And for you. 

I have not taken particularly good care of our body.  I’ve fed our mind and fostered our creativity all the while allowing us to adventure.  That I’ve done those things should give you rich memories to look back on.  It’s been quite a ride.  But our body is on a downhill descent that feels a bit as if we’re riding strong currents leading to a waterfall.  Eventually, we are going to go over the falls to a different ride.  Perhaps one that is a peaceful glide through the water; or perhaps another wild ride like the last 62 years. 

I’m not even going to hazard a guess as to what the next twenty years might hold. The last twenty have been surprising and the twenty before that even more so.

I hope we stay intact.  That our voice remains a guide assuring that this too shall pass when in the rough waters and laughing in delight at the scenery at the other times. I do wonder if this last transition will turn us into more spectator than participant in life.  Will we begin to make our world smaller?  Turn inward?

I’m already a constant examiner of my life – the one I’m living now, the one I lived, and the one I’m creating.  I can’t imagine becoming even more introspective, but perhaps. It’s exhausting to even think about the possibility.

Possibility.  There’s the rub.  I’ve been told that what is possible reduces itself a bit year by year until there is nothing but the inevitable.  Dear God, I hope not.

I’ve gotten through life with hope for and anticipation of good things to come. 

I’m making peace with the idea that my body is beginning to impose limitations.  I am stiff and old injuries haunt me.  

I can’t sprawl in the grass and look for animals in the clouds any longer.  I would never be able to get up.  My hearing is fading which is disastrous when one is almost wholly auditory.  I experience the world through sound and words and this inner voice in our head that is sometimes akin to talk radio. 

I have no trouble hearing our voice, but it is getting harder to eavesdrop on strangers and invent stories about their life, their hopes, and their dreams.

I think it is a given our inner voice will remain at least until the end and maybe onto the next life.  We’ve become friends. The insecure youth that we were has developed some moxie.

Let’s keep that.  Shall we?  We fought hard for it.  To get there.  To develop the courage to fail. It takes a lot of pressure off knowing we don’t have to be perfect; We just have to do the best we can under our present limitations.

Let’s go out in grace and style.  Observing, yes, but participating in the dance.  We weren’t meant to be a wallflower. 

Let’s make a pact, shall we?

Love, Connie

A Letter to My Younger Self

Dear Connie Lynn,

It’s me.  Your inner voice writing to you from fifty years into the future. 

You may want to know that much to your relief your family will quit calling you Connie Lynn in favor of Connie.  Oh, there will be the occasional family reunion where it will crop up, but just like at school, you will be known as Connie.  You never will have a proper nickname, but there will be boys and men who call you baby, sweetheart, and lover.

But I’m not writing to spoil the future for you by revealing too much detail.  I’m not going to give you any advice either – well not much.  I will tell you that you will live to be at least 62 and when you look back at your life, you will mostly smile.

I will tell you to quit worrying so much about your body.  At this age, you will look back and marvel at your insecurities.  You will be astonished by old photographs that show a girl, a woman, who is attractive and poised and yet still a bit goofy.  You will develop hips that sway when you walk.  Eventually, there will be cleavage, but that phenomenon will surprise you and I don’t want to ruin it. Some will describe you as tall and striking.  Your best friend in your 40s will tell you that while not conventionally beautiful, you are arresting.

Quit worrying about it.  Luxuriate in your body’s suppleness and flexibility. Revel in your youth.  Dance, dance, dance.

Your mind, however, will be your greatest asset.  You’ve inherited your father’s intelligence and have your own innate curiosity that will never leave you.  You will enjoy new and different all your life, while still savoring the known and comfortable.

There will be times of great sorrow, upheaval, and trials.  Your spirit will be heavy, but you also inherited your mother’s optimism and know at the cellular level that this too shall pass.

“This too shall pass” will be your life’s slogan.  You will learn, often the hard way, that nothing is permanent except this—your inner voice.  Treat me well and pay attention.  I will alert you to situations and people that are toxic to you.  Listen to me.  It will make all the difference.

I know.  I said no advice.

I will always be with you.  Your body will begin the unstoppable descent into frailty and disease.  You will look back fondly on all the things you could do with it.  Me, this inner voice, will mature until about the age of 25 when it stabilizes.  For the rest of your life, you will feel 25 until you look in the mirror.  

The brain stays supple and elastic far longer than the body, but it too starts to deteriorate.  It might surprise you to know that you will develop an inability to remember things and small details.  You will carry pen and paper everywhere to write things down.  Your ability to just file it away in your head somewhere for instant recall ends. 

You will say, “I used to have a good brain” and it will be true.

Your life will be rewarding and heartbreaking, enjoyable and miserable, steeped in pleasure, and fraught with pain.  You will nonetheless look back on it fondly.

Love yourself, dear one.  It’s going to be the ride of your lifetime. And at 62 you will smile and write this letter.

Love, Me

An Ancient Riddle? What?

Dear People Who Say “Where Are You?” When I Say I’m Lost

Photo by 愚木混株 cdd20 on Unsplash

It’s past time for this communication. I usually don’t have too much trouble communicating3 So why is when I call you, sometimes frazzled and sometimes amused, and say, “I’m lost,” why do you always, without fail, say to me, “’Where are you?” Is this an ancient riddle I’ve never read?

What part of “I’m lost” is so hard to understand?

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Dear Don

Dear Don,

Do you really want to help? Really? Perhaps you might look at the “cutting costs” part of Appalachian Power’s, ahem, “commitment.”

Once again, my power is up and down like a yo-yo today. This is a regular occurrence – day in and day out. I talked about this yesterday when my power went out for no apparent reason. Here I am today, again, talking about it still. Are we really in this together? Does your power go up and down all day long every day? I bet not.

This problem predates the Derecho by months and years. Perhaps all that cost cutting including reduction of personnel has something to do with the fact that Appalachian Power linemen were mournful sad when they looked at the neglected right-of-way that houses the pole that serves my house. Although they were right there and could see what a mess it is, they couldn’t do anything about it. I was instructed to formally request attention to the right-of-way.

Funny that. I can report an outage online with nothing but my phone number, but to request attention to the underlying problem of my frequent outages, I have to provide my account number. Since I pay my bill on time, I don’t have one laying around. Trying to get the number online has been difficult as the server keeps resetting. Perhaps the server farm is served by AEP and their power is yo-yo-ing.

So, Don, I’d appreciate it if you’d get somebody out here to tend to that right-of-way. I’d do it myself, but your website says that you don’t want me to because you’re awful concerned about my safety. I’m betting the real reason is that you think I’d sue the pants off of you if I got hurt. You’re probably right.

I thought you might want to take a gander at how well the company has profited with all that cost cutting and profit guarantee stuff going on.

I hear tell that it’s likely Appalachian Power will request another rate increase to pay for the damage from the Derecho.  I also hear tell that y’all have an agreement with the state that guarantees a profit.  I wonder how many folks doing business in West Virginia would love the guarantee of a profit?  Why, Don, with a guarantee, you can provide people with truly terrible service and still satisfy the shareholders.  Isn’t that nifty?